Tag Chelsea

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United count cost of officials in loss

April 3, 2010 Tags: , Matches 18 comments

For the second time this season Manchester United lost to Chelsea in controversial circumstances with the officials’ decisions pivotal in handing Carlo Ancelotti’s side all three points. Chelsea’s 2-1 victory at Old Trafford, much like the Londoners 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge in November, earned with a goal that should never have been.

Substitute Didier Drogba’s 78th minute winner, lashed past Edwin van der Sar at the near post, stood despite the Ivorian being at least two yards offside. In November Chelsea profited from John Terry’s header following a highly dubious free-kick.

This time Mike Dean’s performance at Old Trafford was among the worst Sir Alex Ferguson’s side has suffered in recent months. The result, with just five games remaining, hands Chelsea a two point advantage in the Premier League title race with a superior goal difference to boot.

In truth United’s limitations, as they have been all season, stretched well beyond incompetent officialdom with the home side lacking either drive or invention during a first half that Chelsea dominated.

The home side struggled to retain possession for the second game in a row, with none of the home Ferguson’s three central midfielders able to create a platform for lone striker Dimitar Berbatov. On this evidence, it is not unfair to suggest time is catching up on the last of United’s golden generation, with Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville each poor.

Chelsea took the lead on 20 minutes with the superb Florent Malouda running past Darren Fletcher and Neville before delivering for Joe Cole to flick home the opener. It was no more than the visitors deserved for far greater endeavor.

Berbatov cut an isolated figure with neither Giggs, Antonio Valencia nor Park Ji-Sung able to get close enough to the Bulgarian to offer support. Yet Dean denied the South Korean a clear penalty after the Yuri Zirkov felled the midfielder inside the area on a rare foray forward by United.

Moments later and Chelsea could have added a second after goalscorer Cole put in Paulo Ferreira only for the defender’s shot to role inches wide.

With the half-time hairdryer suitably employed United finally took the game to Chelsea as the home side piled forward in search of an equaliser. On the hour Berbatov headed just wide from Giggs’ cross in United’s best effort of the match to that point.

But with Drogba held in reserve by Ancelotti the big striker was always going to have a say in the outcome. With 12 minutes remaining the former Marseille forward delivered Chelsea’s denouement. It mattered little to the visitors that Drogba was yards offside.

Federico Macheda’s goal, bundled in off his midriff minutes later, set-up a tense final 10 as United threw everything at Chelsea in the knowledge that defeat could mean the end of this season’s Premier League aspirations.

And with moments to go Berbatov missed a glorious chance to equalise.

Unsurprisingly Ferguson aimed his ire at both linesman and referee in the aftermath.

“The linesman was directly in front of him, there was not a soul near him and he gets it wrong,” Ferguson said.

“In a game of that magnitude, to get that wrong, it’s very poor.”

Referee Dean, who gave Blackburn a dubious penalty last weekend after a deliberate dive by Martin Olsson, has been under intense pressure this week and Ferguson, asked if this had affected the official, admitted his pre-match concern about about the Merseyside official’s appointment.

“You expect officials to get that one right,” added United’s assistant manager Mike Phelan.

“It was not even close. Their job is to keep their composure and they failed to do that.”

Sir Alex commited to attack despite Rooney loss

April 2, 2010 Tags: , Matches No comments

Manchester United take on Chelsea in a Saturday lunchtime fixture that is pivotal to Premier League’s destination this season. With the Londoners a point behind Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, United can afford to draw at Old Trafford. The Scot, typically bullish, says that United must aim to win, even without crocked striker Wayne Rooney.

Rooney aside, United heads into the match with a cleaner bill of health than at many stages this season.

With the Scouser on the sidelines for at least a fortnight, Ferguson will also be without Anderson and Michael Owen for the fixture. However, one or both of John O’Shea and Owen Hargreaves could make the bench at Old Trafford with an otherwise fully-fit squad.

The focus is naturally on 34-goal Rooney’s absence on Saturday, with many pundits declaring the former Evertonian the difference between United and Chelsea this season. Despite the blow to United’s hopes, Ferguson proffered good news about Rooney on Friday morning.

“Two to three weeks I think, it’s not as serious as it looked in the beginning and obviously in that time he’ll miss some important games but he’ll be back before the end of the season,” said Ferguson of Rooney’s injury.

“We’re relieved, particularly when I saw him hobbling off like he did. You’re hoping when you send a player for a scan or an X-ray that you’re going to get some good news out of it, and we’ve got good news out of it.

“It could have been worse, the way he hobbled off. So that’s out of the way now, we can put it aside and get on with picking our team without him.”

Ferguson has little choice but to place faith in 12 goal striker Dimitar Berbatov on Saturday, with only youngsters Mame Biram Diouf and Federico Macheda offering alternative striking options.

Despite the Bulgarian record goalscorer showing outstanding form over the past month the Scot has repeatedly left the £30 million striker on the bench this season, with his faith placed in a single-striker system.

“It was hard to leave Berbatov out because he’s been in such great form,” added Ferguson.

“Against Bayern, we went with the tried and trusted one striker with three central midfielders but he’ll start against Chelsea this week. He’s experienced, I’m sure he’ll do well.”

United lost at Stamford Bridge earlier this season to John Terry’s controversial headed goal, with manager and players criticising referee Martin Atkinson for awarding a dubious free-kick in the build up to the defender’s goal.

Yet Ferguson is confident that home advantage and an attacking outlook will bring the victory that could seal a record 19th domestic title and fourth Premier League trophy in a row.

“Old Trafford is always an advantage so hopefully we’ll maintain that,” Ferguson said today.

“It’s never easy against top teams but as we showed against Liverpool that we’ve got the wherewithal to win the game. We have to try and win.”

Despite the disappointing result and performance against Bayern Munich Ferguson does not plan to make wholesale changes to the side that has been given just three days rest.

However, with Chelsea out of Europe and United’s post-Champions League record fairly poor this season – the side has lost on four occasions – Ferguson is likely to freshen his options. Antonio Valencia and Ryan Giggs, who both missed the midweek fixture in Germany, will likely join Berbatov in the side.

“I only have to make one change tomorrow but I may make two or three depending on how I see the game,” said Ferguson.

“Chelsea’s only advantage is that they’ve played less.”

JT moves in on Cheryl as Chelsea casanovas get busted

February 24, 2010 Tags: , , Just for fun 5 comments

Apparently they arrive just like buses. No sooner does one Chelsea cretin get caught playing away from home, then so does another. The only question being, who has more notches on the bedpost? Following rapidly on from allegations that John Terry had an affair with Wayne Bridge’s ex-girlfriend, Ashley Cole’s wife Cheryl has dumped the England left-back after newspaper reports of his infidelity. JT has not commented on rumours he is delighted.

JT Cheryl

It is not the first time Cole has been the subject of tabloid rumours. In 2006, the former-Arsenal defender sued the publishers of the News of the World for a story that claimed Cole used mobile phones as a gay sex toy. He received an out of court settlement of £100,000.

Chelsea’s management, reported sick of the adverse publicity surrounding their players’ extra-curricular activities, may fine Cole for his behaviour. Tiny tears, stripped of the England captaincy by manager Fabio Capello, has reportedly patched up his marriage

The day Terry went a Bridge too far

January 29, 2010 Tags: , , , Just for fun 18 comments

John Terry may wish to look away after a high court today lifted a so-called super-injunction that banned publication of lurid sex secrets. England Captain Terry, alleges a popular Sunday tabloid, had an affair with former Chelsea left-back Wayne Bridge’s girlfriend. The Chelsea skipper had sought to stop details becoming public.

The News of the World, is it reported in today’s Guardian, is due to print an exposé that alleges Terry, 29, had an affair with Vanessa Perroncel, the French actress and model who dated the 29-year-old Manchester City defender until late last year.

Perroncel, who gave birth to a son Jaydon Jean Claude Bridge in November 2006, split with Bridge before Christmas 2009. She reportedly remained in Surrey following the defender’s £12 million transfer to City in January 2008.

But lifting the banning order, Mr Justice Tugenhadt said that it is no longer in the public interest to keep the relationship secret.

“I do not consider that an interim injunction is necessary or proportionate having regard to the level of gravity of the interference with the private life of the applicant that would occur in the event that there is a publication of the fact of the relationship, or that the applicant can rely in this case on the interference with the private life of anyone else,” said the judge today.

Terry claimed in January 2008 that he was sad to see Bridge go.

“He’ll be missed and I’m still in shock a little bit because it’s a shame to see one of the lads go who you have grown up with and been with a long time,” said Terry of the Bridge transfer to City in January 2008.

“I’m disappointed, but for him it was the right decision.”

Terry may now have reason to regret the decision he made to sleep with a teammate’s girlfriend far more.

Ferguson and players attack referee Atkinson

November 9, 2009 Tags: , Opinion 5 comments

Sir Alex Ferguson slammed referee Martin Atkinson following Chelsea’s 1-0 victory over Manchester United at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea skipper John Terry, scorer of the game’s only goal, glanced in Frank Lampard’s free-kick to hand Chelsea a five point Premier League lead. Ferguson, already in hot water with the FA, blamed Atkinson for awarding 77th minute set piece.

Ferguson complained that the referee was in the wrong place to award a free kick, for Darren Fletcher’s clean challenge on Ashley Cole, and that Didier Drogba fouled Wes Brown as Lampard swung the ball in. Moreover, Drogba was standing in an offside position – in front of Edwin van der Sar – as Terry’s header hit the net.

“The referee’s position to make the decision [for the goal] was absolutely ridiculous. He can’t see anything. It was a bad decision,” said Ferguson.

“You lose faith in refereeing, that’s the way the players see it.

“That goal should never have been allowed. We’ve dominated the game. We’ve had great chances to win the match and not taken them – and that’s our fault.

“We had great opportunities to get to the edge of the box and some really good chances in and around the box, but we should be finishing it off. We’ve only ourselves to blame in that respect. But you do need a break – and we never got the break we needed.”

United, now five points behind the Londoners in the title race, will feel hard done by after dominating for large periods of the game. With central defensive pairing Rio Ferdinand and Nemnja Vidic missing through injury, Wes Brown and Jonny Evans tempered the threat of in-form Chelsea duo Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka. The United pair were subject to criticism after the 3-3 draw with CSKA Moscow last week but Ferguson can take confidence from a brave performance by Brown and Evans.

“It’s very hard to take, we played really well,” Brown told MUTV after the match.

“I thought we played really well as a team and passed the ball brilliantly. We were the better team and had more chances. We should have done better with our chances, but we definitely didn’t deserve this result and it’s tough because we go home with no points.

“I don’t think the referee played well and we’ve been let down by that goal. The decision to award the free kick was harsh. Then Drogba was holding me and pulling me down, obstructing me from challenging for the ball when the free kick came in the box. The ref didn’t see that either – what can we do about it?”

Antonio Valencia, who caused Chelsea problems as he pushed up on the right-wing limiting Ashley Cole’s forward surges, was unlucky when denied a penalty during the first half after John Terry clearly tugged the Ecuadorian to the floor inside the box.

Ryan Giggs and Michael Carrick also went close for United, with the former Tottenham Hotspur man finding space to shoot three times from outside the Chelsea box. Then Wayne Rooney almost found the net in the second half, first with a drive just inches wide from the edge of the box, and then with an effort that nearly curled into Cech’s top left corner.

United’s game-plan only came unstuck when Atkinson – out of position – failed to spot Drogba’s foul on Brown as Terry flicked in Lampard’s free-kick. United can also feel aggrieved by the decision to award the free-kick in the first place after the oustanding Fletcher’s tackle on Ashley Cole and the assistant’s failure of the to spot Drogba’s offside position.

“We didn’t think it was a foul in the first place [Fletcher on Cole] – Fletch went in and came out with the ball,” defender John O’Shea told ManUtd.com after the match.

“The ref’s angle of it and the Chelsea players’ reaction won them the free-kick. And then Wes was clearly fouled by Drogba as the ball came in. The referee’s position was terrible – he was stood right behind one of the Chelsea players and was too far away to see it.

“Lots of decisions seemed to go against us – I crossed the ball towards the end and Lampard clearly stuck his arm up [to block it].

“It was just outside the box, but the linesman was ten yards away and surely had to see it. The little things just didn’t go for us and we’re very disappointed in that sense.”

Despite the result United can take plenty positives from this game. Ferguson’s central defence looked strong against, arguably, the Premier League’s strongest attacking duo. And in midfield Fletcher and Anderson dominated against Lampard and Ballack.

Unfortunately the headlines will once again be dominated by a poor refereeing performance. While Atkinson’s fitness did not prevent the official from making the correct decision, his positioning certainly did.

Proud Reds lose at Chelsea

November 9, 2009 Tags: , Matches 8 comments

Manchester United lost to John Terry’s late header at Stamford Bridge but Chelsea has referee Martin Atkinson to thank for the victory. Atkinson and his assistants made not one, or two but three glaring errors in the lead-up to the Londoners’ goal to hand Chelsea a five point lead at the top of the Premier League.

The manner of defeat, coming after an impressive United display, is particularly galling but Sir Alex Ferguson’s men leave town in the knowledge that the home side was forced to rely on luck – and officialdom – for the win.

Ferguson, without injured central defensive pair Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, predictably selected Wayne Rooney to plough a lone furrow up-front. Ryan Giggs and Antonio Valencia offered support in wide areas with Dimitar Berbatov also absent through injury. Ferguson, often the gambler, chose to play safe and United produced a disciplined performance against a Chelsea side unbeaten at home.

United edged a tense first half that offered few chances from a solid midfield foundation. Indeed, Brown and Evans, so haphazard against CSKA Moscow in midweek, soaked up everything Diddier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka threw at them.

The officials were to have an early hand in Chelsea’s victory though. Prior to their involvement in the home side’s goal, Atkinson and co. twice denied United in the first half. Firstly when Anderson put Rooney through on goal, only for the assistant to incorrectly rule the striker offside and then Atkinson failed to blow when Terry hauled Valencia to the ground in the area.

Darren Fletcher, dominant in midfield, saw a shot blocked by Ricardo Carvlho while Giggs and Michael Carrick also tested the Chelsea ‘keeper in the opening period.

Rooney twice went close after the break as United continue to ask more questions than the home side. First the Scouser drove inches wide of Petr Cech’s post then the former-Everton striker forced a top class save from the ‘keeper with a curling shot.

But all United’s work was undone as the officials gifted Chelsea a late winner. Fletcher, winning the ball cleanly from Ashley Cole, was harshly judged to have fouled the former Arsenal left-back on United’s right. Frank Lampard swung over the free kick for Terry to head home.

The officials, perhaps blinded by their unity with an insulted colleague, ignored both Drogba’s foul on Wes Brown and the offside position of the Ivorian.

Ferguson sent on Michael Owen and Gabriel Obertan to retrieve the situation but it was too late as United slipped to yet another away defeat to a ‘top four’ side.

Finally, Chelsea’s plastic fans – most of whom only discovered the club existed in 2003 – sprung into life. Meanwhile, United’s travelling army leave town beaten but proud that their team was worthy of much more.

Predictably Ferguson attacked the referee post match, blaming the Yorkshire-born official for failing to spot Fletcher’s clean challenge.

“The referee’s position to make the decision was absolutely ridiculous, he can’t see anything,” said the Scot.

“It was a bad decision. You lose faith in refereeing sometimes, that’s the way the players are talking in there.”

“That goal should never have been allowed,” added Ferguson.

“We’ve dominated the game; we’ve had great chances to win the match and not taken them – and that’s our fault.

“We had great opportunities to get to the edge of the box and some really good chances in and around the box, but we should be finishing it off.

“We’ve only ourselves to blame in that respect. But you do need a break – and we never got the break we needed.”

Stamford Bridge or bust

November 7, 2009 Tags: , Matches 2 comments

On the face of it United’s visit to Stamford Bridge is one of the most daunting in recent years. With Sir Alex Ferguson’s outfit leaking goals and Chelsea scoring freely, many pundits are backing Carlo Ancelotti’s team to take the honours and with it a healthy Premier League points advantage. But with the chips down, it is just the kind of scenario Ferguson relishes.

United travel to the capital without vice-Captain Rio Ferdinand who, back-injury permitting, will not play for the club until December. In the England-defender’s stead Jonny Evans will once again slot into the back four, alongside the returning Nemanja Vidic. It’s an area – United’s principal strength just a few short months ago – that Ferguson is justifiable concerned about.

But Ferguson is not yet ready to countenance the tie as a potential Premier League title decider, coming as it does just a third of the way into the season. Indeed, if the Scot’s team wins on Sunday, United will return to the top of the table. A feat that United has achieved just once in the last 10 visits to West London.

“Our players realise it’s a big game and that our performance at Chelsea is really important,” said Ferguson of Sunday’s match.

“We used to have a terrific record there up until a few years ago, but we’ve let that slip. There’s no point in looking back. We just have to look at our present squad and what they’re capable of.

“They’re capable of winning the game, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. It’s not going to be an easy game for either team.”

With United having narrowly beaten Arsenal at Old Trafford in August but lost at Anfield a fortnight ago, Ferguson is aware that the points spread among the leading contenders will decide the Premier League title.

“These games between the top four could be really important in the context of the title race,” Ferguson added

“It doesn’t come into my thinking that Sunday’s game is a league decider. But it could certainly be a really important one.

“Towards the end of the season you could be thinking ‘I’m glad we got a result at Chelsea’ in relation to where you are in the league.”

But United will need to perform better than in previous games against the so-called big-four if the team is to take the points Sunday.

Much will depend on the tactical system Ferguson chooses to deploy. The manager could throw the die and go for broke by deploying Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov in a 4-4-2 formation.

However, the manager’s respect for his counterpart Ancelotti, who has beaten the Scot in three of their four previous meetings, dictates that the young Scouser is likely to plough a lonely furrow up front.

“Ancelotti was a great coach at AC Milan and he has brought a wealth of experience with him to Chelsea,” Ferguson said of the Italian.

“He’s won the European Cup twice and was also a great player. I thought he’d do well. He has a very experienced team and, when you have that, it’s maybe easier to adapt to new tactics or a new system.”

Sunday’s match will do much to show how far Ancelotti’s team has progressed this season. United, as always, might just have to risk all to come away with the points.

Chelsea reap what they sow in Euro farce

May 7, 2009 Tags: , , Opinion No comments

Is it just me or was the Chelsea – Barcelona game absolutely hilarious? If you believe in footballing karma, then surely Wednesday night was richly deserved. For a team featuring some of football’s most overrated (Terry), fraudulent (Drogba) and generally loathsome (Ashley Cole) players, Wednesday was payback for years of intimidating referees and bending the rules of the game.

Not that Chelsea saw it quite so philosophically. The ever-dignified Drogba – crying like a baby, swearing at cameras and punching walls – led the post-match histrionics, and was admirably backed-up the equally unpleasant Ballack. Such was the frenzy whipped up by such ambassadors for the club that the ref had to move hotels that night to escape a baying mob.

Hiddink, meanwhile, was quick to imply that the referee was under UEFA instructions to avoid an another all-English Champions League by giving Barcelona a helping hand. Clearly he knows a thing or two about such conspiracies giving his time as coach of South Korea when – as host nation at the 2002 World Cup – they made the semi-finals thanks to some equally suspect refereeing.

The truth, as any sane neutral could clearly see, was that the referee clearly had a shocker, which happens sometimes. It’s a fact in football that mistakes are made, but its how you react to them that counts. Compare, for example, Chelsea last night with Darren Fletcher’s sending off on Tuesday. Both suffered injustice. Fletcher – unfairly ruled out of probably the biggest game he would ever play in – leaves the pitch without a word, while Drogba and co go nuts. It tells you everything you need to know about the character of a football club.

Anyway, bring on Barça. And I really think United must start as favourites in light of how rattled the Catalans were by a strong but unspectacular Chelsea side. Let just hope that Norwegian fella isn’t in charge.